Thursday, December 31, 2009

...and continues

Our grandbaby is on the way!

This is likely my last post of 2009 .... if you're home watching the ball drop ... there might be an announcement here later!

the wait continues

No news ... our grandchild is in no hurry, it seems.

Will Dan and Jenny have a tax deduction ... or a first baby of the decade? We'll ring in the new year and update here when there's news!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

baby coming

12:37 p.m. December 30, 2009. The phone rings. Once. Bill calls, "get on the phone!" It's Dan, and he says, "Jenny is being induced soon!"

And so the waiting starts. We can't run to the hospital, 450 miles away. So we ...
  • take down the Christmas tree (oh, grandchild, you'll be doing this your whole life, celebrating your birthday while putting away Christmas trimmings) 
  • warm noodle soup 
  • write a few tardy Christmas cards
  • do laundry and
  • continue some closet cleaning started yesterday.

David just left for Evansville, Indiana to visit friends. I call him. He asks if the baby will arrive before he reaches Evansville, five hours away. I don't think so, I say.

I wait, pacing the house.
I try to pray.
Is it possible to be too excited to pray?
I trust God to bring my grandchild into the world healthy and whole.
And to bring healing and rest to Jenny.
Hold them, Lord. Give them courage and excitement for the hours ahead.
I want to pack my bag, get in the car and drive to Charlotte.
But I remember our plan to wait a few days and go when we can be the most help.
It will be hard, waiting to see
and hold
and nuzzle the fuzzy newborn head
of my early-birthday-present grandchild.
Maybe I should nap.
I wait. I pray.
God, hold me, too.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

a merry, garage-cleaning Christmas

There's a first time for everything, and I'm pretty sure this was the first year I helped organize a garage on Christmas Day. Here's how it went down ...

We drove to Charlotte to spend Christmas with our son Dan and daughter-in-love Jenny, who is due to deliver their first baby very soon. We spent the first couple of days eating, playing games, driving in the bustling Charlotte traffic and watching movies.

But I couldn't get my mind off the garage. Dan had mentioned needing to clean it out. And whoa, this garage was in dire need of cleaning bulldozing and organization. Knowing that Jenny was in no condition for the task, and won't be for oh, say 15 years, I rallied the troops to tackle the project.

First we broke down the mountain of cardboard boxes for recycling and bagged up newspapers. We filled a couple of garbage bags with trash. Impressively, about a quarter of the garage was soon filled with trash and recycling.

Armed with a ladder and drill, we set to work erecting shelves on one wall. My sons, while they might not admit it, were duly impressed with my knowledge of tools and construction, such as it was. In little more than an hour, the shelves were up and loaded with numerous garage-items: coolers, boots, tent, gardening supplies and bins.

We worked right up until our delicious pot roast dinner, set out by Jenny and Katie. By this point, my bones and joints yelled for a break, but Dan energized me to finish the task and wanted to hang the bikes. Back we went to the garage, measuring and estimating the ideal spot.

At last, about 8:30 p.m., we brought Jenny out for her Christmas 'surprise,' as if she didn't know why we spent Christmas afternoon in the garage sweeping, sorting, tossing and making countless trips into the house.

Merry Christmas, Jenny and Dan! It's one I'll always remember!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

O, come let us adore him,

O, come let us adore him,

O, come let us adore him,

Christ, the Lord!
Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

happy birthday, Dad!

Today my dad, Joe Matlock, is turning 85. Little did I know one year ago, when I wrote this post, how the year would unfold for my dad and me.

I'm grateful for my dad and his influence on my life, but I'm especially thankful for the time we had together during his recent health crisis.

Thanks, Dad, for being a man of integrity, humor, wit, and devotion. I like seeing a softer side of you, too.

(Dad has improved dramatically, but remains at a long-term care facility where his needs can best be met. I talk with him on the phone regularly.)

Happy, happy 85th, Dad!

(Dad shares his birthday with a long-time family friend, John Power, another wise and witty guy. Happy birthday, John!)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Joseph's Lullaby

As we await await the arrival of our first grandchild, I remember the profound changes in my heart as I had our children.

And with it being Christmas week, I think of Joseph. He, too, welcomed his baby into the world. While Joseph's son was destined to be the Savior of the world, for all people, for all time, Joseph was a man, a humble carpenter. I can't imagine his divided emotions over the arrival of this little boy. The group MercyMe expresses Joseph's situation beautifully. Take a listen. I hope it brings your heart closer to the heart of Christmas.

Go to sleep my Son
This manger for your bed
You have a long road before You
Rest Your little head

Can You feel the weight of Your glory?
Do You understand the price?
Does the Father guard Your heart for now
So You can sleep tonight?

Go to sleep my Son
Go and chase Your dreams
This world can wait for one more moment
Go and sleep in peace

I believe the glory of Heaven
Is lying in my arms tonight
Lord, I ask that He for just this moment
Simply be my child

Go to sleep my Son
Baby, close Your eyes
Soon enough You'll save the day
But for now, dear Child of mine
Oh my Jesus, Sleep tight

- MercyMe

Saturday, December 19, 2009

first snow

This is what I saw as I stepped out to get the paper this morning: the first snow of winter. In years past, the kids would be squealing and searching for hats, boots, sleds, mittens and scarves. Had I been an A-type, organized mother, all such items would be neatly organized near the back door in four little piles.

After the hour-long snow-gear search, the children would be running, snow-angeling, and throwing snowballs down each other's necks. Soon one would be crying at the door, all frozen or needing to use the bathroom. At which point I'd stop making hot chocolate to help undress, then re-dress the child. Twenty minutes later, I'd hand a tray of hot chocolate out the door for the kids, all soggy-mittened and red-cheeked. While I was putting throw rugs and beach towels around the back door to catch the snow, another child would be at the door, needing the potty.

Yep, that's what used to happen on first-snow days.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

giving life

Life. How can we give it?

1. Birth a child. Personally, I'm done with that one.
2. Give blood. Many do. Many don't. Some can't. Some won't.
3. Become an organ donor.

Far and away, #3 is the most painless. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's pain-free! Here are some staggering facts*:

- There are over 100,000 people in need of an organ transplant in the U.S. alone.
- There were fewer than 10,000 deceased organ donors in the U.S. last year. (That's a ratio of 1 organ donor to every 10 transplant patients.)
- In the time it takes you to shower today, one new name is added to the U.S. transplant waiting list.
- From the time you woke up this morning, until you wake up tomorrow morning, 18 people will die waiting for a needed organ.

It's an unfortunate fact that the holidays are a time when many will lose their lives in accidents. Please consider signing up for organ donation and make your wishes known to your family. And urge them to do the same.

* The above facts provided by Nate's wife Tricia is alive because she received her new lungs in 2008 from a donor.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

the Christmas letter

You know the letter. Mom brags on her fabulously perfect children who get full scholarships to Yale, or her husband who received three promotions this year. Or, her husband left her, her son's on drugs and she is awaiting word on a biopsy. I don't know why people write those letters and send them out at Christmas. Maybe the good stuff is intended to bring cheer and the bad stuff is intended to reveal real life.

Many years ago, I fashioned a new sort of Christmas letter. I don't really know what my intent was: maybe to be completely different than any Christmas letter ever written. I'm quirky like that. After a few years, our Christmas letter gained quite the reputation as "unusual," "hilarious," "interesting," "creative," and other such adjectives. I'm honored, but honestly, don't people realize there are libraries full of great literature, year-round?

Then, the other day as I crawled in the crawl space (what dumb architect ever designed such a space in a house?) I came across a bag of our old letters. I embarked on a trip of memories and laughter, dating back to 1991: a chronicle of the life and times of our family.

A few highlights:
~ We've had the same e-mail address for 10 years.
~ 17 years ago, I was thrilled to finish 10 years of diaper-changing. Next month, I'll be changing my grandbaby's diapers.
~ I shudder at a memory described in 2000: a trip to Gettysburg during which the kids behaved horribly. And so did I. They weren't even all that young, so I figure my behavior was justified.
~ Kids' ballgames, orthodontist appointments, kids' concerts and the like were prevalent themes for about 15 years. I miss the kids, but I'm enjoying the quieter evenings.
~ What a dramatic event: taking our oldest son to college! Now it seems as ordinary as a trip to the grocery store.
~ I've never again pulled into the garage with the Christmas tree still on top of the van: once was enough.

Even if the majority hates our Christmas letter, I will treasure them as snapshots of life as it used to be.

Do you write a Christmas letter? Do you love them, hate them, save them, toss them? Just wondering.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

the Christmas room

Snippets of conversation heard over the years from grandmotherly types, usually sometime in November: "Oh, I've finished my Christmas shopping: wrapping, too!" Or, in January: "oh, I'm getting a head start on my Christmas shopping."

Well how nice gag, I would think, gritting my teeth while roping in four rambunctious youngsters. That'll be the day.

Truth be told, I've never been a savvy, enthusiastic or efficient shopper. Get it all done in one day? Never. My feet hurt, my head spins, and I get exceedingly hungry and thirsty every two hours. And I'm terribly indecisive. Ugh. I. hate. shopping. Oh, I love Christmas and the amazing, wonderful entrance of Christ into the world, but the making of even a modest Christmas for four kids turned me into a stressed-out, snapping mom.

Whadya know, I have no children underfoot to test my sanity during December. I'm beginning to think it's not the "bad guy" commercialism that made me crazy, it was my own expectations and wound-up kids along with the million regular duties resting on my mom shoulders.

So. Seeing as how I almost AM a grandmother, I can now act like one. This includes designating a ROOM for Christmas gifts. Not a closet, not a corner of the crawlspace, not, as my mother did one year (I kid you not) the car-top carrier sitting in the garage, where we walked by every day. Sometimes moms are brilliant.

Today I lined up my few measly bags of purchases on the bed in the spare room. The Christmas room! And shut the door. No hiding. (my husband isn't a peeker.) Very easy. Very empowering. Very relaxing.

Apologies to my children. I love you. But you did make me a bit crazy in the month of December. (I just know some psychologist-type is going to comment that I ALLOWED the children to make me crazy. Granted.)

I doubt I'll be shopping for Christmas 2010 next month, but I'm definitely making headway.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

old dog; new tricks

Today I had a conversation with an acquaintance on the astonishing speed of technology growth. We laughed at how the early Star Trek shows used the precursor to a cell phone: ridiculous! We agreed that technology is pretty much outpacing our ability to keep up.

Then he says, "well lots of companies no longer pay for phone service. They use this thing called 'skype.'"

Uh, yeah. I've known about skype and get this - I have skyped - for well over a year. He seemed surprised that I knew anything about it.

Well. I give all credit to my young adult children, who have enlightened me to all manner of modern technology. I have frustrated them wildly, too, because I seem unable to master any new technological skill on the first go-round.

Whether it's cutting and pasting, scanning and saving, downloading (or is it uploading?) photos, or texting (don't get me going on that), I'd be somewhere back in the 1970's were it not for my savvy, weaned-on-computers offspring.

Look, when I was their age, the only phone in my college dorm was one that 25 girls shared. And it was attached to the wall down the hall. I took a typewriter to college, not a computer. As the student government secretary, I typed up the meeting's minutes and ran copies on a mimeograph machine. I spent hours and hours in a darkroom, developing film and printing photos for photography class. Whether accomplishing assignments or calling home, everything I did took lots more time. But it was all I knew, so I don't remember being particularly annoyed or impatient over what might seem to my children as slow-motion living.

I do think my past explains everything as it relates to learning today's technology. Our boomer brains grew up finding answers in encyclopedias, not online. We gabbed with our friends on a phone in the kitchen while our mothers cooked dinner, so conversations held no secrets. We took pictures and waited a week or two for the photos to come back.

If I must defend my technological inadequacies, let it be known that I didn't even touch a computer until after my first of four kids came along. So the computer revolution essentially blew by me while I was having and raising my children.

Bottom line, it can be challenging for an old dog to learn new tricks. But not impossible, given the desire and a few twenty-somethings with the patience to train their parents the new stuff.

Am I longing for the good old days? Not on your life. I won't be left in the dust. I'm gonna skype the bajeebers with my grandbaby!